As I look around at the state of the world today, it can often feel like it has lost its compass. Human and democratic values are at risk. The planet and its people are struggling to cope with immense global challenges. But the times of greatest challenge are exactly the times when the European Union needs to stay true to its values, to work to improve the lives of people across the world and to strengthen its international partnerships for peace and prosperity.
I believe it is also in our self-interest to defend European values and Europe’s standing in the world. Russia’s aggression against Ukraine is the most brutal manifestation of heightened geopolitical competition. We are not naïve. In partner countries we not only face a competition of narratives, but also a competition of partnership offers. Infrastructure is at the heart of this competition and today’s geopolitics.
The Global Gateway strategy, adopted in December 2021, is the EU’s positive offer. It is an ambitious strategy to support the global economic recovery by connecting people and places in a sustainable way. It creates links, not dependencies. It enforces resilience and sustainable development of partner countries and strengthens local economy, job creation and markets. With Global Gateway, we will show that we can deliver sustainable economic growth – and security for people. How will we do this?
We will work as Team Europe. This means the EU, EU Member States and the European development finance institutions working closely together for greater impact. Between 2021 and 2027, Team Europe will mobilise up to €300 billion of investments of public and private funds for sustainable and high-quality projects. In coordination with G7 partners, we want to narrow the investment gap worldwide. Our flagship projects are based on the needs of partner countries. Projects will create new opportunities for the EU Member States’ private sector to invest competitively.
Global Gateway uses a comprehensive approach. It is not just about building bridges, dams and roads. To have a truly transformative impact on international trade and growth, we also build skills and institutional capacities for partners, looking at the whole value chains. We offer opportunities for local people, invest in basic services like health and education, and advance the green and digital twin transition.
We are creative. The European Union and its Member States remain the world’s leading donor, providing 43% of global Official Development Assistance. But public money alone is not enough. We have remodelled our financial tools to help mobilise the additional firepower needed. Global Gateway uses a mix of grants, concessional loans and guarantees to de-risk private sector investments, to engage the private sector in Europe and in partner countries and to create powerful synergies between public and private funds.
In a world of interdependence, when global supply chains are showing their fragility, connectivity is key. Global Gateway includes the extension to the transatlantic BELLA cable from the coast across Latin America; the expansion of the Trans-European Network to improve transport links with the Eastern Partnership and Western Balkan countries; and scaled-up funding for the Erasmus+ student exchange programme worldwide. In Africa, along with support for new strategic transport corridors, the EU will mobilise €2.4 billion grants for Sub-Saharan Africa and over €1 billion for North Africa to support renewable energy and the production of renewable hydrogen and critical raw materials. This will help meet the demand for clean energy and green transition for our partners and ourselves – true win-win solutions.
I am happy to see the first building blocks of Global Gateway taking shape. Reactions have been positive, and we are registering great interest from partner countries and businesses alike. Global Gateway embodies the new paradigm of EU International Partnerships.
Jutta Urpilainen, Commissioner for International Partnerships - Op-ed published in Formiche